Pinched Patients Skimping on Vital Medication

Docs warn trend could cause health care time bomb
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2008 12:58 AM CDT
Pharmacists Larry and Jason Krohn, and technician Kim Payne fill prescriptions at Beach Pharmacy in Gulfport, Miss.   (AP Photo/Sun Herald, John Fitzhugh)
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(Newser) – Cash-strapped consumers nationwide are risking their health by cutting back on prescription drugs, the New York Times reports. Some try to stretch out their supply by splitting their pills in half or taking them every other day. Others choose for themselves which medications to stop taking, increasing the chances of serious—and costly—health problems in the future.

"People are having to choose between gas, meals and medication,” said the chairman of a physicians group. “I’ve seen patients today who said they stopped taking their cholesterol-lowering medicine, because they can’t afford it.” Some 90% of people who qualify for Medicare have drug insurance, but the "doughnut hole" gap in benefits means many must pay for prescriptions out of their own pocket for part of the year.